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« on: December 07, 2018, 02:30:47 AM »

ST. PETERSBURG http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-sean-newcomb-jersey , Fla. (AP) Out by out, the Tampa Bay Rays are revamping the roles of major league pitchers.A decade after embracing Joe Maddon’s entertaining managerial style and buying into baseball’s analytical movement to transform themselves from perennial losers to playoff contenders, the budget-minded franchise is trying to reinvent itself through unconventional means.Welcome to the dawn of the ”opener” and ”bullpen days,” which the Rays have used to overcome a dearth of starting pitching to rebound from the worst 17-game stretch to begin a season in team history.It’s a world where long-time relievers Sergio Romo and Jonny Venters made the first starts of their major league careers, and the Rays used 30 different pitchers – seven of them rookies who combined for 39 starts – through their first 106 games.”It’s still early, but I think we found out that it does benefit some pitchers,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.Depending on matchup, the Rays may use an ”opener” to face three to six batters to begin a game.A ”bullpen day” starter, by comparison, generally pitches deeper into games though usually no more than twice through an opposing team’s lineup.”I think some of our young starters have been benefited by not having to face that first four or five hitters in the lineup,” Cash said. ”I give a lot of credit to those guys for buying into a unique approach that’s been talked about a lot,” Cash said. ”It’s nice that they have come together, embraced it, and I think enjoyed it to some extent. When it goes well, it’s a lot of fun.”The ”opener” debuted May 19, when Romo made the first start of an 11-year big league career after 588 relief appearances. Since then, the Rays have the major leagues’ second-best ERA.In all Preston Tucker Jersey , they’ve used an ”opener” 24 times, going 11-13 in those games. Additionally, there have been 19 ”bullpen days” in which the team has gone 9-10.Tampa Bay is averaging 4.3 innings per starter, by far the fewest in the major leagues, according to Baseball Info Solutions. Toronto is 29th at 5.27 innings.”It definitely is different. It definitely is outside the box. But the way it’s all been pieced together, it’s almost turning into our normal,” said Romo, who more recently has re-settled into a more customary role as a closer,Rookie Ryne Stanek, for the most part, has flourished as an opener, holding opponents scoreless in 12 of 15 starts, including four in which he didn’t allow a hit. Venters, who made 244 appearances as a reliever before making his first major league start in early June, did not fare as well in his only outing as an opener. The 33-year-old was traded last week to Atlanta.”Ryne Stanek definitely has benefited from that role,” Cash said. ”It’s amazing every day how much buy-in we get. We know we’re doing some unique things. and some questionable things that people scratch their head at, but these pitchers do a tremendous job of buying in.”Good http://www.oriolesfanproshop.com/authentic-j.j.-hardy-jersey , young starting pitching was among the keys to a stretch of four postseason appearances over six years under Maddon, including two AL East titles and an improbable run to the 2008 World Series.This season’s unorthodox approach to dividing the workload was born of necessity.Cash expected to break spring training with a four-man rotation of Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Faria, while using the bullpen to cover days that would require a fifth starter.The ”opener” was added to the mix help the manager cope with injuries that at times left the Rays with three – and sometimes just two – healthy starters.”I get it. It makes some sense, especially when they have some starters down. … A little unconventional, and I don’t think necessarily ideal, but I certainly get it,” New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.”You do what gives you the best chance to win, regardless,” Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter echoed. ”They’re doing it because they don’t have any starting pitchers.”While Cash concedes it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about the potential effectiveness long-term – or whether other clubs will be intrigued enough to follow Tampa Bay’s lead – the strategy nevertheless has helped the Rays stay afloat following a 4-13 start.The team is 49-40 in 89 games since April 18 and 53-53 overall entering a nine-game homestand that begins Tuesday.That’s despite using 30 pitchers season, tying a franchise single-season record.And, with 14 different starting pitchers – six more than all of last year – the Rays have matched the number the club had the previous three seasons combined.”I can be completely candid and honest. When it works, it feels pretty good when it’s happening. But when it doesn’t, it’s pretty gut-wrenching,” Cash said after one game in which the results were not pretty.The Rays have had enough success that they’ve begun experimenting with openers in the minor leagues.Could others in the majors be open to trying it, too?”Baseball is kind of a copycat game. It depends on how it all plays out Adam Jones Jersey ,” Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”I don’t like (using relievers that way). But everybody’s got to do what they got to do with what they have, and what they want to do.”The Rays, meanwhile, are focusing on themselves.”We’re not necessarily looking to get credit. We probably don’t want to get bashed, either, for it,” Cash said.”But every decision we make, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it. We’re not throwing something up against the wall,” the manager added. ”This is an opportunity that presented itself with so many young pitchers, and it is nice to see it play out when we have success.”—AP freelance writer Mark Didtler contributed to this report.— BALTIMORE (AP) — The Houston Astros will head into the playoffs coming off the best regular season in franchise history and with an ageless right-hander who’s gunning for his second AL Cy Young Award.Justin Verlander struck out 10 in the opener of a doubleheader, and the Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Saturday before completing a sweep with a 5-2 victory.The twin wins gave Houston a franchise-record 103 for the season, surpassing the record set by the 1998 club.“We took a moment, because it’s a great accomplishment and we should be proud,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “The most wins in franchise history is a big deal.”Verlander allowed three hits and a walk in six shutout innings in the opener, showing he’s ready for the playoffs.Whether Verlander receives another Cy Young Award to go with the one he earned in 2011 with Detroit, well, that’s not nearly so clear.He finished his 14th big league season with a 16-9 record and a 2.52 ERA. He had an AL-leading http://www.oriolesfanproshop.com/authentic-manny-machado-jersey , career-high 290 strikeouts (and only 37 walks) in 214 innings, second-most in the league behind Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.“I think he’s the Cy Young,” Hinch said of Verlander. “I believe in the innings, that they matter, and where he ranks in all the categories. It’s a tough call. I’m going to be biased toward my guy.”Asked to assess his chances, Verlander said: “I feel like the body of work speaks for itself. It’s going to be an interesting case. In my opinion, innings matter.”Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell is 21-5 with a 1.91 ERA over 179 innings.“I’ve always valued 200 innings, and grinding for it. It’s not easy to get there,” Verlander said. “I’m definitely interested to see how this voting is going to go. I have no idea, honestly.”Verlander launched the dominant outing with seven strikeouts over three perfect innings. He left after throwing 99 pitches.“He’s 35 years old. It’s remarkable to watch him pitch, even though he’s beating you,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He would have kept pitching I’m sure five or six days from now.”Verlander’s next outing will come in the postseason, which begins for Houston on Friday against Cleveland.Orioles starter Dylan Bundy matched zeroes with Verlander until the sixth. Tony Kemp drew a leadoff walk, George Springer hit his 22nd home run and Carlos Correa sent Bundy’s next offering over the right-field wall.DJ Stewart tied it with a three-run homer off Joe Smith in the seventh, costing Verlander the victory.In the ninth, Springer drew a two-out walk from Sean Gilmartin (1-1) and Correa broke the tie with an RBI double.Will Harris (5-3) worked the eighth and Hector Rondon got three outs for his 15th save.In the nightcap, Myles Straw hit his first big league homer and Brian McCann also went deep against rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-8).Jake Marisnick made it 5-2 with a two-run shot in the eighth.Dallas Keuchel started and went three innings in his final tuneup for the playoffs. Brad Peacock (3-4) worked the fourth and Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his second save.Baltimore enters Sunday’s finale as one of only five big league teams since 1900 to lose 115 games.MORTON RETURNSAstros right-hander Charlie Morton (15-3 Chris Davis Jersey , 3.18 ERA) will start on Sunday in the season finale. How far he goes is up in the air, given that he hasn’t pitched in a week.“I could see it going anywhere from one inning, two innings, maybe even three innings,” Hinch said. “I need to be convinced that he feels like he’s clear from the soreness to where we’re not risking a ton.”Morton left with shoulder discomfort after pitching only one inning against the Angels last Sunday. Then, on Thursday, his wife gave birth to a girl.UNCERTAIN FUTUREOrioles outfielder Adam Jones is receiving an unofficial, tentative farewell from the fans at Camden Yards this weekend.His contract expires after the season, and he is 33 years old on a team rebuilding with youth. Even if the Orioles ask him back, would he say yes?“I’m not the one making business decisions on their regard,” he said before the game. “All I can do is make a business decision on my behalf.”UP NEXTAstros: With a victory on Sunday, Houston will complete a sensational September with a major league-best 22-5 record.Orioles: Jimmy Yacabonis (0-2, 6.00 ERA) will start the final game.

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